Songs I Never Realized Were About Abortion Until Someone Explained Them To Me -The Toast

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crandallI never know when someone’s on drugs or had plastic surgery, or when a poem is supposed to “really” be about sex even though it’s clearly about plants. I never get metaphors. Everything always has to be explained to me, like Ax in the Animorphs series.

I can be counted on not to understand what a song is “really” about unless that meaning is spelled out explicitly; if a song does not contain the word “abortion” in it, I can generally be counted on to never realize it’s about abortion at all. Conversely, you could tell me that almost any song with slightly opaque lyrics is about an abortion, and I would believe you with a perfect and a childlike faith, because I no longer trust my own judgment. Is “The Fool on the Hill” about an abortion? If you told me so, I would believe you.

Song: “Brick,” Ben Folds

What it’s about: Abortion
What I thought it was about: 
I guess just generally being sad at Christmas? Maybe, if I thought very hard about it, I would have guessed it was about someone being sick, but I never thought very hard about it. It just struck me as melancholic. In retrospect, this song is not nearly as vague as I thought it was; I should have known.

Song: “The Freshmen,” The Verve Pipe

What it’s about: Abortion
What I thought it was about: 
Not only did I have no idea this song was about an abortion until well into my college years, I once sang it at the karaoke machine in a Discovery Zone at my sixth-grade birthday party. If I am very honest, I believe I interpreted the line “fell through the ice when we tried not to slip” as being about an honest-to-God ice skating accident. In my defense, the band members themselves seem a little confused:

According to the FAQ on “Verve Pipings,” guitarist and lead singer Brian Vander Ark wrote the song in 1991 about the guilt he felt from his ex-girlfriend committing suicide. However, according to an external interview site, Vander Ark revealed that the suicide was poetic license; the real incident which inspired the song was when his pregnant girlfriend had an abortion.

I knew it was a sad song. Grant me at least that much understanding. I grasped the general emotional tenor of the thing.

Song: “Slide,” Goo Goo Dolls

What it’s about: Abortion
What I thought it was about: 
I did not realize this song was about an abortion until I wrote this article. Hand to God, I had no idea. I (of course) googled the phrase “songs about abortion that don’t say the word abortion” and (of course) found a Wikipedia list of “songs about abortion,” and Slide was on it. Look, I’m not an idiot. I know that “Bodies” by the Sex Pistols is about abortion, because they say it’s about abortion in the song. This is the kind of guided hand-holding I require when it comes to songs about abortion.

Rzeznik said of this before performing it on VH1 Storytellers: “The song is actually about these two teenage kids, and the girlfriend gets pregnant, and they’re trying to decide whether she should get an abortion, or they should get married or what should go on.”

Well, I never.

Song: “Lime Tree,” Bright Eyes

What it’s about: Abortion
What I thought it was about: 
I have no idea. I never try to guess what Bright Eyes songs are about, but this one is entirely on me. “Since the operation I heard you’re breathing just for one” should have given it away; the fault is mine.

I live my entire life like that moment Homer realizes he’s been calling Mrs. Krabappel “Crandall” for years by mistake. I never know when anything is about abortion, so now I just generally assume most songs are unless told otherwise.

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